This Time I’m Walkin’ to New Orleans

(@9 – promoted by buhdydharma )

How selfish of me to be trying to drag the reader from some lovely spiked eggnog to the nitty gritty of the struggles of others.

My only rationalization is that Christmas is approaching.  The whole damned story was about Mary and Joseph not being able to get a room when she was about to have her baby.  I believe at the time they were traveling back to Joseph’s hometown for some registration or other.  (What’s that cool French phrase that means, “the more things change …”? Cestdelamemchanceorsomethinglikethat.)

So with that admittedly self-serving rationalization, I continue with a story that has grown more and more interesting to me, the public housing issue in New Orleans.

From the indefatigable oyster at Your Right Hand Thief, a pertinent question of what the nature of this public housing will be:

Quoting the Times-Picayune:

Unbowed by days of caustic protests, the New Orleans City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the demolition of four sprawling public housing developments, launching a new era in the troubled history of a social safety net launched in the World War II era.

The unanimous decision, which put to rest some predictions of a racially split vote, handed a major victory to President Bush’s housing aides, who have pushed for mixed-income developments as a way to restore an original goal of public housing: to provide transitional housing to help people elevate themselves from poverty.

(emphasis mine)

Oyster goes on to question this new meme being introduced by our politicians and our media, “transitional housing,” and questions if that was the original reason for why our country helped folks with their homes.

You can read the entire post and there are some comments which do some research (including a link from Yours Truly).

So let me see here.

Folks were evicted from their public housing after the federal flood, even though their homes were not all damaged.  They were sent to far flung places in and out of the Gulf Coast region.  They received some assistance from the feds and from the state, but some of that assistance is running out, some folks are being evicted from their FEMA trailers, there’s a big question about housing — heck, there’s also illegal demolitions going on of middle-class housing that have resulted in law suits, serious ones.

So there’s a big mix here, it would seem to me.  Whether it’s public housing or illegal demolitions of private housing, a lot of tearing down and building up (and the attendant big money contracts for same) is going on.  And it will affect the entire city, the rich and the poor, imo.

We’ve heard many promises from politicians, trumpeted in the traditional media both locally and nationally, that those poor folks, those wretched poverty stricken folks will be treated with great compassion and housed well all due to the bounty of our federal government and its great agencies HUD and FEMA!  They are regular Santa Clauses!  Yay!

But of course this housing is only transitional.  And what does transitional mean, I wonder?  ‘Course just having a home is not exactly a ticket to high class status here in the good old U S of A.  I dunno, jobs might help, daycare centers, hospitals, schools, libraries, all the kinds of community services so many of us take for granted, that might also help with this so-called “transition.”

How long is a transition, I wonder?  Well in this instance I guess a transition depends on the money — oh not the money someone on public assistance makes, oh no!  It depends on the money the government is willing to spend for this noble goal of helping to transition folks out of that nasty awful poverty they’ve got themselves in.

So it could be that next year some of these noble heroes from HUD or FEMA or maybe even some local developer with a lot of power and a lot of greed, could decide that a miracle has taken place!  Each and every one of those folks, even the ones in the diaspora who have not yet come home, well can you believe it!  They have all successfully transitioned from poverty and we no longer even NEED public housing!  Hosanna in the highest!

Transitional my ass.

Here’s what I would like to know.  Who is getting the demolition contracts?  How much will they be paid?  Will the citizens of New Orleans get the information they are entitled to get from the City Council on exactly who is doing what in this large project?  And I am not just talking about public housing here, but city planning generally.  Will the citizens whose lives are going to be affected by these decisions be given the information they need to judge how well this job is being done, so that they can feel comfortable with the results?

That’s what I’m interested in when it comes to New Orleans.  I’ll stick the “transitional” meme in my meme box with all the others, like “what part of illegal don’t you understand?” or “you are only allowed to have a television if you earn over $50,000 a year,” and “impeachment is impossible, we don’t have the votes.”

I believe the story of Mary and Joseph and the birth of Jesus is about far more than housing.  But it cannot be denied that they were in very “transitional” housing indeed on that night a birth took place in a manger.  With wise men and extremely groovy gifts.  A night of contrasts, I guess.



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  1. … I called this “New Voices.”

    But I’ll stick with that title.

  2. … I’m changing it to the title I like better.

    Also x-posted at oange.

  3. Fats says it ~~~  Follow the freaking money!!

  4. the already impoverished citizens obviously have had no choice in the matter of demolitions, etc., as they have had no choice in anything since Katrina.

    I am a terrible skeptic, at this point!  It all seems as though it was conceived (or contrived) from the get-go!

    They’ve already got fancy casinos along the coast — one such goal as I recall.  

    On a smaller scale, this is what happens in Cities, i.e., you have a particular slum or very low income area within the City and close to the center.  What happens?  Developers comes along with plans for expensive condos, etc. and the poor are driven out, once again.

    With New Orleans, it’s even sadder because so many of these people were there in their locale not transiently, but some for generations — a part of the historical value of New Orleans!

    Excellent post, NPK!!!!

    • psyched on December 23, 2007 at 05:08

    Le plus ca change, le plus c’est la meme chose.

  5. The travesty in NOLA was, and remains, criminally negligent homicide– And/Or a test experiment for conducting criminal homicides in other places around the country and the world.

    Know the truth so we can recognize and “know” the bastards

    before they “do it” to us.  

    I’d rather be eaten by a bengal tiger!  

    • nocatz on December 25, 2007 at 02:10

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